Hypable Exclusive Author Interview: Leah Cypess

9:00 am EDT, November 9, 2012
Exclusive

Leah Cypess is the author of the young adult fantasy novel Mistwood, and its companion Nightspell. Her work has earned starred reviews in Kirkus and acclaim from the ALA Booklist and School Library Journal. Leah wrote in her spare time through law school and legal practice, and now lives in Brookline, Massachusetts with her husband and their three children.

Could you tell us 5 random facts about yourself?

1. I like blue

2. I also like green, actually.

3. I think dark blue and forest green match and look great together. And I sometimes dress accordingly, even though everybody I know disagrees violently with my assessment.

4. At other times, I wear clothes that don’t match, but it’s not quite with the same sense of social defiance. It’s just because I have a bad habit of not noticing that clothes are dirty until I’m wearing them and have five minutes to get out the door.

5. I don’t really care that much about colors, or even clothes, in a general sense. But you should beware of saying “random” to me.

Tell us about your journey to becoming a writer.

I’ve known I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. In first grade, I wrote a story from the point of view of an ice-cream cone, and when I was eights years old I told my grandmother I intended to be an author when I grew up. (Actually, I intended to be the youngest ever published author, but then I saw this tv news interview with a 7-year-old who had sent a peace poem to Russia, and my dreams died a sudden and painful death.)

My journey to being a published writer, however, was far more complicated. Also at around the age of eight, I started trying to notice how publishers packaged their books and who they published, because I figured this would help me “pick a publisher” when I was ready. I decided I’d go with Greenwillow Books, since they published Diana Wynne Jones and she was my favorite author.

At the age of fifteen, I started sending books and stories to various magazines. I would stop off at the library on my way home from school, go to the Reference section, and painfully copy out entries from Writer’s Market. I got, of course, slews of rejections. I knew to expect that, so my confidence was unabated. There was only one letter that stung – from Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine, the only magazine I actually subscribed to (well, that and Cat Fancy – even though I didn’t have a cat – but that’s a very long story). I loved the selection in that magazine and they were all exactly the types of stories I wrote, so I figured they would be the first to publish me.

But my first rejection letter from Marion Zimmer Bradley was a form letter which explained that, “I am sorry to say that in this story you did not manage to get me sufficiently interested in your characters to care whether they lived and did well or whether a convenient earthquake came and swallowed them all up on the last page.” And yes, you read correctly. That was the standard language on one of her form letters.

At the age of 17, I finally got my first story accepted to publication – at Marion Zimmer Bradley’s Fantasy Magazine. Thick skins are very important in this business.

I then started sending my first full-length book manuscript to editors. I collected rejections from pretty much every imprint in existence. Over the next five manuscripts, I slowly graduated from form rejections, to “not this one, but send us your next one” rejections, to personal regretful rejections explaining in length why this manuscript wasn’t a good fit, to revision requests, to rejections that came from the acquisitions committee rather than the editor.

Finally, a mere 15 years after my first submission, I got an offer to publish Mistwood. It came from Greenwillow Books.

What has surprised you about writing and publishing?

When it comes to writing, I’m surprised by every book I write. I always think I have a sense of where the story is going, and somewhere along the way, it always takes a left turn. That’s one of my favorite parts of writing, and one of the reasons I don’t outline.

With publishing, pretty much everything surprised me. I had never thought about what happened afterward; that offer to publish, to have a real book with my name on it, was the gold at the end of the rainbow for me.

Why do you feel drawn to the stories you write?

With short stories, I’m usually drawn to an idea that I think is cool and unusual and/or looks at an issue I really care about through a different angle. With novels, I usually need two things – a character that comes to life in my mind and a situation that spurs my imagination.

At what point in the development of an idea do you know that it will become a full-length novel?

It depends on the idea. With Mistwood, I knew somewhere in the middle of the second chapter that this wasn’t actually going to be a short story. With Nightspell, I knew from the start it was a full-length book idea.

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author?

I shut all criticism out of my mind, so I can’t answer that.

Just kidding. Though to be honest, there isn’t any particular critique or review that sticks out in my mind – I do know what seems to bother a lot of people, and those are the things I try hardest to work on. With Mistwood, a number of people felt the secondary characters weren’t as fleshed out as they could be, so that was something I tried to correct while writing Nightspell. With Nightspell, a lot of people didn’t like that there wasn’t enough romance, which is somewhat frustrating to me since I never intended the book to be a romance – but Barnes & Noble shelved it under paranormal romance, so people understandably felt that they didn’t get what they had expected.

What has been the best compliment you’ve received?

What means the most to me are those reviewers who have become fans – who are eagerly anticipating my next book and will read it no matter what it’s about. That’s how I feel about my own favorite authors, and though I don’t think I’m in their league, it’s really amazing to think that there are people who feel that way about my writing.

Where’s your favorite place to write?

A beach on a windy day. Or, in reality: the playground when my kids have friends to play with and therefore don’t interrupt me.

Do you most relate to your main characters, or to secondary characters?

I tend to write in a pretty limited third-person POV, which makes me relate most to my main characters. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re the characters who are most like me.

How do you approach writing villains?

I don’t know if I write “villains” (though come to think of it, I may have in Nightspell). I think everyone has reasons for the things they do, even when those things are evil. I also think that understanding someone’s actions is not the same as condoning them.

What is your favorite chapter or scene you’ve written recently?

I have this tendency to love the next thing I’m going to write the best. That said, I recently wrote a rough draft of a scene for the sequel of Deathsworn, and while I can’t say anything about it without major spoilers, I kind of hug myself thinking about it.

(Sorry. I know that is massively uninformative. If it makes you feel any better, I give it about a 30% chance that in a week I’ll look at the scene again and realize it needs to be cut.)

Which is easier to write: The first line or the last line?

The first line!

Which one YA novel do you wish you had when you were a teen?

Split by Swati Avasthi. First, because it’s amazing, and second, because it deals with a topic (spouse abuse) I’ve never really understood – and probably still don’t, but I now understand what I don’t understand.

Do you have things you need in order to write? (i.e. coffee, cupcakes, music?)

Paper. Pen. That’s about it.

What are you working on now?

The aforementioned sequel to Deathsworn. It’s my first time writing a sequel, and it’s been a challenge, but there’s also something very satisfying about getting to stay with the same character for so long.

For more about Leah Cypess:

You can find Cypess’ books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter, and contact her through her website at leahcypess.com.

Quiz: Which ‘Mean Girls’ character are you?

9:02 am EDT, September 29, 2016

Ever wondered if you’re more of a Cady or a Regina? Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate Mean Girls Day (October 3rd), Episode, the world’s largest mobile network for interactive stories and creators of Mean Girls: Senior Year, has made a quiz to determine which Mean Girls character you are.

Once you’ve found your Mean Girls spirit animal, continue the fun by downloading both seasons of the Mean Girls story on Episode for iOS and Android. Rejoin all of your favorite characters as you navigate everything from new crushes to sorority pledging. You choose how the story plays out.

Read full article

Ever wondered if you’re more of a Cady or a Regina? Today is your lucky day!

To celebrate Mean Girls Day (October 3rd), Episode, the world’s largest mobile network for interactive stories and creators of Mean Girls: Senior Year, has made a quiz to determine which Mean Girls character you are.

Once you’ve found your Mean Girls spirit animal, continue the fun by downloading both seasons of the Mean Girls story on Episode for iOS and Android. Rejoin all of your favorite characters as you navigate everything from new crushes to sorority pledging. You choose how the story plays out.

You go, Glen Coco!

Let’s play! Which ‘Mean Girls’ character are you?

Play Mean Girls in the Episode app today!

Note: This quiz was sponsored by the advertiser.

WB has revealed that it will take the threat of an alien race, The Dominators, to unite the heroes of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

With Supergirl entering the Arrow-verse, she will be bringing aliens along — though it remains unclear how her Earth will integrate with Earth-1, where the casts of the other three series reside; Barry visited Kara’s Earth on Supergirl last season when he ran fast enough to open a portal.

“This year, for our mega ‘Arrowverse’ crossover, we’re taking inspiration from a DC crossover from the late 1980s known as Invasion!, which featured an alien race called the Dominators, who’d previously vexed the Legion of Superheroes,” Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow EP Marc Guggenheim says in a press release.

Read full article

WB has revealed that it will take the threat of an alien race, The Dominators, to unite the heroes of Arrow, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow and Supergirl.

With Supergirl entering the Arrow-verse, she will be bringing aliens along — though it remains unclear how her Earth will integrate with Earth-1, where the casts of the other three series reside; Barry visited Kara’s Earth on Supergirl last season when he ran fast enough to open a portal.

“This year, for our mega ‘Arrowverse’ crossover, we’re taking inspiration from a DC crossover from the late 1980s known as Invasion!, which featured an alien race called the Dominators, who’d previously vexed the Legion of Superheroes,” Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow EP Marc Guggenheim says in a press release.

“We’re using cutting edge prosthetics and computer effects to achieve a feature film-quality look which is faithful to Invasion! artist Todd McFarlane’s interpretation of the characters.”

The Dominators

The Dominators, collectively known as the Dominion, are an alien race from the farthest reaches of the universe. A technologically-advanced species who specialize in genetics, their society is extremely hierarchical, with status depending on the size of a red circle that appears on their foreheads.

Invasion! was a major, three-issue crossover event in 1989 that featured the Dominators joining an Alien Alliance to wipe out humanity due to the threat the meta-gene that allows for humans to develop superpowers presents.

When they traveled to Earth, heroes and villains alike teamed up to fight to protect the world. The Dominators were also an enemy of the Legion of Superheroes in the 30th century.

It’s also worth noting that Arrow‘s 100th’s episode will air during the crossover, so we should definitely expect something special.

Are you looking forward to the crossover between ‘Arrow,’ ‘The Flash,’ ‘Legends of Tomorrow’ and ‘Supergirl’?

Need a little extra dose of Gilmore Girls music in your daily life? Then you’re going to want to put this Gilmore Girls playlist on repeat!

When it came to music, Gilmore Girls really had its finger on the pulse of amazing music, both modern and otherwise. From The Bangles to The Shins to Elvis Costello, the show incorporated an eclectic yet fun mix of music into every episode of every season.

To celebrate the show’s impeccable choices (in addition to our undying love for the show itself), we’ve carefully crafted a Gilmore Girls music playlist. Relive all of the ups and downs in each of the seasons and perhaps throw an impromptu dance party with these tunes. With our Gilmore Girls playlist, you can now indulge in Gilmore Girls 24/7.

Read full article

Need a little extra dose of Gilmore Girls music in your daily life? Then you’re going to want to put this Gilmore Girls playlist on repeat!

When it came to music, Gilmore Girls really had its finger on the pulse of amazing music, both modern and otherwise. From The Bangles to The Shins to Elvis Costello, the show incorporated an eclectic yet fun mix of music into every episode of every season.

To celebrate the show’s impeccable choices (in addition to our undying love for the show itself), we’ve carefully crafted a Gilmore Girls music playlist. Relive all of the ups and downs in each of the seasons and perhaps throw an impromptu dance party with these tunes. With our Gilmore Girls playlist, you can now indulge in Gilmore Girls 24/7.

Hypable’s ‘Gilmore Girls’ music playlist

‘Where You Lead I Will Follow’ by Carole King and Louise Goffin

What better way to kick off a Gilmore Girls playlist than with the show’s famous theme song? It’s the perfect opening song. (And if you choose to play it on repeat, that’s completely acceptable.)
 

‘This is Hell’ by Elvis Costello

It makes perfect sense that Jess’ first impression of Stars Hollow would be narrated by this song. After all, the starry-eyed small town life can be kind of overwhelming at first.
 

‘There She Goes’ by The La’s

Fact: This was the very first song played on Gilmore Girls! It accompanied an introductory look around Stars Hollow before introducing our favorite gals. Oh, the memories!
 

‘Then She Appeared’ by XTC

What a perfect song to mark Rory and Jess’ first kiss. It’s perfectly sweet and tender and just oh-so-totally them. It’s hard not to imagine the scene when listening to this song.
 

‘Fell in Love With a Girl’ by The White Stripes

This was one of the songs that Hep Alien played at their very first gig! Sure, it wasn’t really a great night for Jess/Rory or the band, but it started out well enough!
 

‘Reflecting Light’ by Sam Phillips

As if Luke and Lorelai weren’t cute enough together at Luke’s sister’s wedding, they had to go and dance beautifully to this tender song.
 

‘Human Behaviour’ by Björk

What would a Gilmore Girls playlist be without including a song from one of the girls’ biggest inspirations? Just take a listen and think of their famous snow creation.
 

‘Eternal Flame’ by The Bangles

Make one of Lorelai’s favorite bands one of your favorite bands by listening to this track on our Gilmore Girls playlist on repeat!
 

‘One Line’ by PJ Harvey

“I love you, you idiot” is probably one of the most quotable lines on the show. This song just set the mood and really made it that much more memorable. It’s nothing less than perfect.
 

‘So Says I’ by the Shins

Who could ever forget the spring break scene where Paris tries to make out with Rory on the dance floor? The fact that The Shins were playing this song live during the scene just made it so much better.
 

‘Time Bomb’ by Rancid

Not only did Lane dance to this catchy tune in Rory’s room toward the beginning of the first season, but Hep Alien eventually covers it during a performance later in the series!
 

‘When You and I Were Young Maggie Blues’ by Bing Crosby and Gary Crosby

Watching Rory and Richard bond over this song in the hospital room is still one of the most memorable scenes of the series. Pour one out for the wonderful Richard Gilmore. We miss you, friend.
 

‘Inside Out’ by The Mighty Lemon Drops

The Gilmore Girls series finale was such a bittersweet episode, but this song definitely made for one of the most memorable moments: Luke and Lorelai kissing!
 

‘If I Could Write’ by Sam Phillips

This emotional song sums up the Gilmore girls’ love for each other perfectly, especially in times of sadness. Who could ever forget this song playing as Rory packs for a grip to Europe with Emily after fighting with Lorelai?
 

‘Girls Just Want to Have Fun’ by Cyndi Lauper

Lorelai and Emily Gilmore walking a catwalk to Cyndi Lauper’s greatest hit? Classic. Though they may not have gotten along often, at least they could bond over this song.
 

‘O’Oh’ by Yoko Ono

Remember that time when Rory skipped school to walk through New York with Jess, stopping for food and record shopping? This song was the perfect accompaniment for their adventure.
 

The La La Tunes by Sam Phillips

Okay, so these aren’t really actual songs per say, but Gilmore Girls wouldn’t be Gilmore Girls without them (and so neither would the Gilmore Girls playlist)! They’re so iconic!
 

‘My Little Corner of the World’ by Yo La Tengo

We decided to end our Gilmore Girls playlist on a cute note with this sweet song. The mental image of Rory and Lorelai runing at each other from across town during the season 1 finale is enough to make anyone smile.

 

What song(s) would you add to our ‘Gilmore Girls’ music playlist?

 
Related: Everything I know about Gilmore Girls I learned from pop culture (and my crazy friends)